Epicenter of epic
The CN&R jumps into the pit to see just how epic Epic Fest is
Chico has been a fantastically fiery hotbed for metal and heavy rock for the better part of a decade—long before the folky folks at NPR and the snooty synth-loving sods over at Pitchfork finally threw up their devil horns, and light years before hipster dens like Portland and Brooklyn became metal meccas.
By the mid-aughts, bands like The Makai, The Abominable Iron Sloth and Blood Of Cain had helped fuel Chico’s metal renaissance, making names for themselves here and beyond. And we can’t forget bands that came even earlier, such as Fallon, Trench and Oddman—anomalies in their days—that helped pave the way.
The tradition continues, and will be on display this weekend in a festival called—what else?—Epic Fest. The brainchild of Sesar Sanchez (Cold Blue Mountain, Teeph), Epic Fest will cram 13 of the heaviest local bands into eight hours, and show everyone everywhere else how it’s done.
Epic? Even without the services of Chico doomsters Amarok—whose 20-minute songs could bring Beowulf to his knees—we think so.
Armed For Apocalypse
This super-group has the ability to riff faster than a locomotive, steamroll tall buildings with a single … OK, enough—Armed For Apocalypse are an unstoppable behemoth. And the four-piece (made up of former members of Oddman, Red With Envy and Blood Of Cain) has a new record out called The Road Will End, which sounds like the name implies.
The song “We Don’t Take No” from Blood Cabana takes death metal and American thrash and gives it some groove in the vein of Pantera. These kids spit it up raw and gritty, and the riffs will lodge themselves right into your gray matter.
Taunis Year One
These dudes are all about precision, and they seem to like tie-dyed shirts. Taunis Year One make metal with proggier tendencies … which are better than the suicidal kind.
Another group of fleet-fingered shredders, Sorin has a flair for the dramatic. “New Heights” clocks in at 14 minutes (with a shorter 8-minute instrumental version, if you like). Technical, but not quite “technical ecstasy.”
Cold Blue Mountain
You know them, you love them (and their beards). You’ll find plenty of down-tuned and super-sized riffs on the band’s self-titled debut (available on cassette and vinyl)—guaranteed to be the unhappiest meal you’ve ever choked down.
Into the Open Earth
Unlike Sorin, Into The Open Earth like things short and swee … sweaty. The trio’s excellent Doomfruit EP tastefully incorporates elements of punk and post-rock into two-minute fireballs. One listen to “Infinite All” and you’ll know the deal.
These guys rule. Lots of groove, killer riffs, a singer who sounds like a prehistoric bird, and you can tell they grew up on the classics. The band has a song called “Ejaculation Till Mummification.” I’m not sure what that means, but it’s heavyfuckingmetal.
This shit is frantic. It’s Zappa meets Emperor eats Melt Banana. The title of their latest and greatest LP, Vietnamaste, says it all.
These OGs formed in the late 1980s while still in high school, playing thrash metal in Chico at a time when the hippies twirled and the indie rockers stood with arms folded. And they still kill. Come see where it all started, and bow before Fallon.
If you make it through Io Torus’ eight-minute monster “Premonition,” and are still able to sleep that night, then you’re a true hesher. Prog that’s melodic, evil and beautiful. And evil. Any guesses as to whether Nick Farrar uses a four- or five-string bass?
A Holy Ghost Revival
Nothing wrong with a little Norwegian black metal from Oroville. Heavy on keyboards, blast beats and Lord of the Rings, A Holy Ghost Revival are as precise as a surgeon’s scalpel … err, a Hobbit’s dagger.
Firm believers that six strings are not enough, this “death-metal boy band” from Paradise uses eight-string axes to slice and dice hapless victims.
Touch Fuzzy Get Dizzy
And the winner for greatest band name ever goes to … This is a new band made up of some familiar faces (from Cold Blue Mountain, Armed for Apocalypse, Into the Open Earth and The Shimmies). Heavy, heavy, heavy, but poppy, poppy, poppy. Metal could use a little melody in its life, so here you go.